Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up with one agenda- to stay in bed, snuggled up under my comforter with my fan on high, decaf coffee just in case I wanted to doze off into another good sleep, and watch a good movie. I love a good movie it draws me into another world where I am able to gain a different perspective in some way through someone else’s story. I began to scroll through the Amazon Prime movies when the movie, Crown Heights grabbed my attention because it was recently added. It was based on a true story of a young man wrongly accused of murder- I was intrigued. Let me say this before sharing… never underestimate the power of one, the power of hope- not hope that is found in things or even favorable circumstances but hope that is generated from and in people. People who will dare to stand by you and fight for you. Those who will be your oxygen when your air supply has been cut off!
Colin Warner, a Trinidadian immigrant, was only eighteen years old when he was wrongly accused of murder. And as heartbreaking as his story is, the other disheartening truth is that his story is as common today as it was in 1980, which is the year he was indicted. Yes, we are still fighting against the demon of social & racial injustice against people of color. I can never comprehend what Colin Warner and so many others have endured at the hands of racial injustice- having your voice stripped of its power, your destiny forcibly rewritten and not in your favor, and having to wake up entangled within a system that is designed to diminish your humanness. Yet, at the core of his story and the countless stories of others, one can experience the power of hope, the strength of friendship and love, and how God can take something ugly and create something beautiful that serves a greater purpose.
If it was not for Colin’s long time best friend, Carl King, we probably would have never heard of Colin Warner. His story would have been buried under the lies that are rooted in systematic injustice. Carl King, a friend, who had no prior education surrounding the issues of social or racial injustice nor had he attended a law school, became the hero of this inspiring story. Carl stood by and fought for Colin from day one. He breathed hope year after year into the spirit of his friend, believing that one day the justice system would admit its wrong doing and free his friend. He did not just stand by him but he fought with and for him for twenty-one years. He faithfully made long trips to visit his friend in prison, took the collect phone calls, he raised money from the community, he used his own life savings, he took a job as a court process server and learned the legal jargon, he worked effortless to track down and do his own investigation on what happened the day the young man, who Colin was convicted of murdering, was killed.
There was even a point of time when Colin had to serve two years in solitary confinement for physically lashing out on a guard, after being denied a second time, the possibility of reopening his case or getting paroled. It was at this point, he told his friend to stop fighting for him and to move on with his life. However, Carl never stopped fighting- what a friend! He kept fighting for his friend all during the time of his confinement. It’s crazy because the movie revealed that Carl also reconnected Colin with an old friend that eventually became his wife, all while Carl’s marriage was in trouble because of his dedication to prove his friend’s innocence. He literally did the time with Colin. As long as Colin was in prison Carl was not free. He was not just fighting for Colin but for himself understanding that injustice was not bias when it came to Blacks. This is why Carl is not only the hero of Colin’s story but he is our hero.
Martin Luther King Jr. stated that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Carl King actions directly affected all of us and we should be compelled to action, to always be willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
I do not want to ruin the movie for you, which it is a chance, I already did. However , it is my hope that you will watch it and allow it to give you the much needed perspective you need in this season. I will never underestimate the power of one, of hope, of community, of love, of tenacity, and of truth – this movie reminded me to never stop fighting and standing with those I love, believe in, and even those I don’t know but believe in. My gift, which is the gift of encouragement makes a difference and without it someone may not make it. Colin is free because Carl became the hero in his story. You may be the only hero in someone’s story. You may be their only hope during this season. Stand by them, fight with them, and fight for them! Will you be the oxygen to someone else’s soul right now? We can’t make it alone.